Riverdale mayor conducts first meeting

By Greg Gelpi

It wasn't perfect, but it made history.

Phaedra Graham stumbled at moments, but the first black mayor of Riverdale conducted her first City Council meeting Monday night, appointing a few government positions, while having other appointments rejected.

With a copy of Robert's Rules of Order next to her notes, Graham made a few procedural missteps, as more than 100 people packed City Hall to watch her make history.

The council approved Sandra Meyers as city clerk, Veronica Jones as city attorney, Thomas Roberson as city court judge, Jerry Patrick as city solicitor, Wanda Wallace as mayor pro tem, Kenneth Ruffin as parliamentarian, Michelle Bruce as a representative to the Clayton County Municipal Association, Rick Scoggins as a representative to the Airport Authority, Roland Downing as appeals board member, Jewell Lewis for planning and zoning and Jessie Goree to fill the unexpired term of Grover Nix on the appeals board.

The council rejected Graham's appointments for city attorney and city judge.

Going outside the city, the council decided to seek a single law firm outside of Riverdale to perform the roles of election superintendent, absentee ballot clerk and alternate absentee ballot clerk.

Virginia Trahan, a Riverdale resident and business owner, said the change in politics was a change for the better.

"We need to stand behind our city and not just our mayor," Trahan said. "Change is not change until it's changed."

Graham said she hopes that the crowds continue to pack City Hall, adding that the people are an "important part of the process."

"It was a smooth transition," Graham said. "I'm going to continue to work with the council to do the will of the people."

Council member Wallace, who leaned over at times to correct Graham on procedure, called the transition "smooth" as well.

"We all seemed to be on the same page," Wallace said.

In other business, the council approved $2,500 from a contingency fund for a youth basketball league and $60,000 from its reserves for a judicial software package and denied a conditional use permit for a barbershop.